A draft bill allowing Russian companies to produce crops used in medicinal narcotics was approved by the Russian government on Wednesday, with officials saying this would reduce the country’s dependence on imports from states that have imposed sanctions against it, Reuters reports.
Most of the substances used by Russia in domestically produced pain medication comes from countries that have imposed sanctions against the country, health minister Veronika Skvortsova said.
The draft bill, which still needs to be approved by the State Duma (lower house of Parliament) and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin, will allow two factories that already produce opiate-based medications to grow their own crops.
“In order not to leave our population without strong painkillers, we must be self-sufficient,” Skvortsova told reporters. “We need to produce drugs in a full cycle – from substances to their medicinal form.”
The United States, the European Union and other Western states have imposed broad-ranging sanctions against Russian companies, banks and individuals since Moscow annexed the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in March 2014.
Russia has historically been an importer of drugs, predominantly from Europe. The country’s pharma market is set to be worth $36.61 billion by 2021 according to leading business reports. This represents an annual compound growth of 13%, which should see it firmly placed within the top 10 largest markets in the world.
Russia’s domestic drug market is mostly made of generic medications, which amounts to around 70% of its pharmaceutical makeup.